Easy Robot Machining with the BobCAD-CAM Plugin

If you’re a machinist, you might be uncertain about robotics, and especially robotic machining. You know robotics could be an enormous benefit to your business… but how do you get started?

BobCAD-CAM is a design software created for machinists by machinists. With our new RoboDK Plugin, you can seamlessly machine complex paths with a robot without leaving the familiar BobCAD interface.

Robotics is no longer just a “nice to have” in the manufacturing industry. You have probably noticed that the discussion about robotics has moved away from “Is robotics a good idea?” to “Is this the right time for us to invest in robotics?”

Perhaps you assume that, as a machinist, you don’t have the skills to deploy a robot in your process?

Perhaps you are unsure of what applications you could achieve with a robot?

There is good news. Robots are ideal for a new type of machining called robotic machining. If you’re familiar with CAD/CAM programs like the popular BobCAD-CAM, you can easily learn to program a robot for machining tasks… when you use the right plugin.

What is BobCAD-CAM?

BobCAD-CAM is a powerful mechanical design and machining software targeted at machinists. The software is available as a stand-alone product or as an add-on to other popular CAD programs, including Rhino 3D and SolidWorks.

The company is based in Tampa, Florida, USA. Since 1985, they have been developing affordable software for manufacturers. BobCAD-CAM differentiates itself from other CAD/CAM software packages in that machinists designed it and it specifically caters to the needs of machinists.

The company has 3 core products: BobCAD-CAM, BobCAD-CAM for SolidWorks, and BobCAD-CAM for Rhino.

Various modules of the software are available, including CAD design, 2 thru 5 axis milling, turning, wire EDM, routing, laser, plasma and waterjet cutting. There is even a dedicated art module to serve the increasingly popular intersection between manufacturing and art.

If you are a machinist and you’re using BobCAD-CAM, you will already be very familiar with its interface.

But you might be less comfortable with the idea of machining with a robot…

Why Use Robots for Machining?

Robot machining is an increasingly interesting application for machinists. It involves using a robot to mill the machining paths instead of a conventional CNC machine.

Though it might sound surprising, robot machining can outperform a CNC machine in some situations.

There are a few core benefits of using robot machining:

  • Robots are cheaper than conventional CNC machining, particularly for large or complex machining projects.
  • It is more flexible than conventional machining. You can achieve a wider range of machining tasks with a single robot. With conventional CNC machines, this would require multiple machines.
  • A single machining robot will use a lot less floorspace than several conventional CNC machines.

But you might be uncertain whether you have the skills to apply robotics to your machining task.

According to Udo Jahn, the General Manager of Modern Engineering, fear is the downfall of many CNC machining businesses. It causes people to hold on to their old legacy equipment, leading to poor productivity.

The fact, robotic machining is here to stay. You can take your machining business to the next level through the knowledgeable application of robotics.

What do you need to do to make the most out of robots?

For many situations, just having the right robot programming software is a great start.

What is RoboDK?

RoboDK is a highly popular, flexible robot programming and simulation software.

People use the software across an extensive range of industries, and it is compatible with hundreds of robot models from dozens of manufacturers. Its intuitive interface makes RoboDK perfect for expert roboticists and new robot users alike.

RoboDK excels at robot machining. Its integrated machining wizard makes it very easy to convert your machining paths to accurate robot motions.

Introducing… the RoboDK BobCAD-CAM Plugin

Here at RoboDK, we are committed to making robot programming as easy as possible for anyone, no matter what software you are already using.

The BobCAD-CAM plugin combines the robust features of this machining-focused software with RoboDK’s powerful robot programming features. It allows you to seamlessly generate robot machining paths from right within the familiar BobCAD-CAM interface.

You can access the main functionality of the plugin via the new panel that is added to BobCAD-CAM when you install it.

The panel includes 4 core buttons:

  • Robot Setup — This launches RoboDK and creates a default robot machining project.
  • Update Operations — When you change your machining toolpath in BobCAD-CAM, this button sends the new path directly to RoboDK and regenerates the robot program.
  • Generate Program — If you have only made some minor edits, you can use this button to generate the robot program.
  • Settings — This button brings up the plugin’s settings panel. This allows you to set parameters, such as whether the machine axis should be inverted, if you are coding in APT or GCODE, or if you are using metric or imperial measurements.

What You Can Achieve with BobCAD-CAM and RoboDK

Using BobCAD-CAM together with RoboDK is the perfect way to get started with robot machining.

It allows you to piggyback on your existing experience with this powerful machining software, giving you the functionality you need to program robots for machining tasks.

By moving to a robot machining process, you can reduce the cost of your machining for large workspace machining tasks compared to performing the same tasks with conventional CNC machines.

How to Start Using the BobCAD-CAM Plugin Today

What do you need to do to use the RoboDK BobCAD-CAM plugin?

If you haven’t already, the first step is to download a free trial copy of the latest version of RoboDK.

Then, head over to the BobCAD-CAM plugin documentation page to see more about how to install and use the plugin with your copy of BobCAD-CAM.

What features do you most often use BobCAD-CAM for? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in the RoboDK Forum.. Also, check out our extensive video collection and subscribe to the RoboDK YouTube Channel

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at CreateClarifyArticulate.com, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.

View all posts by Alex Owen-Hill

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